Spiritual Direction for Christian Writers
Christian writers do better work when they stay in contact with the Lord. That’s often easier said than done. We can hardly find time to write in the first place, and taking time to be with the Lord before we start writing seems like it could be another distraction.
Things are different for a Christian writer. It doesn’t make any difference what kind of article or book we’re writing, we want to make a connection with the Lord so our writing will flourish.
Understanding the Role of the Holy Spirit
Some Christian writers think that they receive direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit. As a student of the Bible, I’m not sure that happens, but it does depend on your definition of the word, “inspiration.”
If you think you are getting your story direct from God, as if he is dictating it to you, then I would have trouble with that. It goes against the idea that an individual he can privately interpret spiritual truth (2 Peter 1:20). In a case like this, a writer presumes to have a direct conduit to God on a level equal to the prophets and the apostles. Such claims are usually made only by spiritual charlatans.
However, the Holy Spirit does guide writers through the process that we call, “illumination.” The light we receive is reflected light and available to all Christians. The Holy Spirit helps us (Romans 8:26), guides us (John 16:13), and teaches us (John’s 14:26).
As Christian writers we want to be completely open to the illumination of the Holy Spirit. How do we open ourselves so the Holy Spirit can touch our writing? Here are five steps.
Spiritual Direction for Christian Writers: Step 1
Start your writing session by focusing on Christ. Tradition says that you do that by opening your Bible.
The problem with that is that most people switch immediately to an intellectual mode. People tend to read the Bible for information rather than inspiration, and that’s not helpful as you seek to enter the presence of God.
What’s the best way to connect with the Lord on an affective level? For most people, it is listening to familiar Christian music. That speaks to our inner spiritual self, and our spirit can connect with the Holy Spirit.
If you’re not too self-conscious, you may wish to sit at your desk and sing a hymn or spiritual song. I have a Bible study software program (see my review of it here) which includes hymn lyrics. By siting and singing a hymn or two and change your entire mood and spiritual focus.
Spiritual Direction for Christian Writers: Step 2
Once you are in a positive spiritual frame of mind, you want to spend a few minutes just worshiping the Lord.
Yes, music is a part of that, but in this step you do something very specific. That is, you count your blessings. Once you have enumerated them, then you thank the Lord for each one.
The Lord invites us to glorify him (Matthew 5:16). We do that best when we recognize that he is active in our lives in ways large and small and we thank him in a specific way for his watch-care over us. We glorify the Lord when we acknowledge his majesty and splendor in our lives.
Spiritual Direction for Christian Writers: Step 3
Now is the time to open your Bible. Read a short portion and process it in two different ways. First, you want to understand its objective, intellectual meaning. You want to know who was speaking and the context of their remarks.
Second, you want to make a subjective application of the particular passage to your own life. Each passage in the Bible has a meaning that applies to everyone, but often has a special meaning for you in particular circumstances.
I recommend that you read the Bible in a systematic way. Many Bible reading plans are available. Some people like to read through the entire Bible each year, and that’s a desirable thing to do.
Spiritual Direction for Christian Writers: Step 4
After your Bible time, you want to go to the Lord in prayer.
I suggest you start by praying for people and situations that are within your sphere of influence. After that, you want to pray specifically for what is about to occur in your writing session. You want to ask the Lord to illuminate your creativity. You want to ask him to let the words flow.
There is an old saying that, “Prayer changes things.” I have never believed that. I think prayer changes people and people change things. You want to be an instrument of change as a Christian writer.
How long should you pray? When you’re close to the Lord, it’s easy to get lost in prayer and time loses meaning. However, in following this spiritual direction for writers, I recommend that you set a time limit for yourself. You want to can get to the important work of writing. After all, writing itself can be a form of worship for Christian writers.
Spiritual Direction for Christian Writers: Step 5
Some Christian writers have a difficult getting started even though they begin with these positive spiritual exercises. Is there a way you can shift into writing mode in a quicker way?
I recommend journaling to do this. It’s a simple connection between putting your mind on Christ and putting words on the page.
In Step 2, for example, you may wish to write your blessings rather than just recount them mentally. From Step 3, you may wish to write down your reflections on your Bible reading. In Step 4, you may wish to write about the people you’re praying for, and the answers you receive.
Journaling is recording your thoughts. It does not require any research or other preparation. You simply express yourself. By doing this you “prime the pump” for your writing session regardless of the topic of your article or book.
Spiritual direction for Christian writers involves switching off the distractions of the world at large, those in your particular environment, and switching to a spiritual state of mind.
Your goal is to open yourself to the illumination of the Holy Spirit.